Flock, Web 2.0

by francine Hardaway on November 17, 2005

Do you ever feel the need to try a new browser? Probably very few people do, since most people don’t think about what a browser does, or should do. Most of the world still uses Internet Explorer, or AOL when it wants to access the Internet, except for the security freaks who have migrated to Firefox because it’s supposed to be safer. I migrated about a year ago, mostly because Firefox is faster than IE, which takes forever to load. Because I’m on a Mac, I don’t think much about security.

But now I have migrated again, just for the sport of it, and I’m thinking about browsers and how they function for perhaps the first time in my life. I’m trying out a pre-release version of Flock, a product that seems to do the opposite of the old browsers — it cares not a whit about privacy and seeks to help me share everything. It’s part of the new era called Web 2.0, the next generation of the Internet.

In this new era of broadband Internet access, the browser is almost the only interface between you and your computer, and everything you use is a “web service.” What, of all the things on your computer, do you use most? Well, I use an email client, Microsoft Word, and a browser. When I travel, I often forgo the email client and use a browser to read email over Yahoo or Gmail. And now Microsoft has announced that it will put new versions of its productivity applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) online soon in a complete 180 degree shift from its old business model.

The times they are a changin’. Pretty soon, I will be using only a browser to access everything I need.

So here’s how Flock works: instead of composing this blog entry in MS Word ( as I would have done in the past,) and then cutting and pasting it into Blogger ( as I would have done in the past) to post it to my blog, I now compose directly into Flock. Then I press a button and Flock posts it for me.

The intermediate step, using the browser to access the place where I post my blog, is gone, taken over by the browser.

Now suppose I want people to find my blog. As I write, Flock allows me to “tag” my blog in a sidebar. This means I pick some key words, like browser, Flock, and Web 2.0 that I think describe what I’m writing about, and enter those to the right of my post.

Those tags go directly to deli.cio.us, where they can be searched by people looking for blog entries on these topics. Since I have been tagging my blog in this way, using Flock and deli.cio.us, the number of new visitors to my blog has tripled. People are now finding me. Or to be more exact, they’re finding the subjects they want to read about, and maybe this week I’m writing about them.

This is a cool way to organize information. However, it does assume that everyone on the Internet wants to be found, read, and shared. This is a new way of looking at privacy — it may cease to be a desirable attribute altogether, let alone a right. We are entering an era of globalization, collaboration, networking and sharing.

And although I haven’t explored it yet, Flock also allows photo collaboration and photo blogging — stay tuned for when I discover how to do this. This is way beyond using email to exchange pictures of grandchildren: this is a way to present one half of the world to the other half.
will all be treated to endless photos of my trip to Shanghai (next week) and Bodh Gaya, India, whether you want them or not.

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